Rudy the Wrangler

This story was told me by a friend who worked on a fishing TV show hosted by Scottish actor Paul Young. Young had been in Michael Winner’s western CHATO’S LAND (an unpleasant affair: don’t watch it) and had at least one story to tell. I’m telling it as my friend told it to me, hopefully correctly.

Young Paul Young

There was a horse wrangler on  the film called Rudy (this checks out: Rudy Ugland was his name). Rudy was a relaxed sort of cowboy, usually to be found with his feet up, hat pulled over his eyes, until needed. Whenever Winner let loose his nasal bray “Roooo-deeeee!” he would tilt the hat back, stand, and saunter over to see what needed doing.

One day, Winner decides to set up one of his periodic artsy shots, shooting under a horse, using its belly and front and back legs to frame the shot. I haven’t rewatched the somewhat obnoxious oater to locate this angle, but it sounds like the kind of thing Winner would do when he was feeling a bit Sid Furie.

The horse and the camera and the actual subject of the shot — maybe including Mr. Paul Young himself — were all in position, and Winner looked through the viewfinder to check the shot. Hmm, something not right. Some diagonal obstruction cutting right through frame.

It turns out the horse has an erection, which is making the shot a little TOO expressionistic. The image is cut in half from top right to bottom left, like a split screen. Like you might expect to see two characters engaged in a phone call, either side of the horse cock.

“ROOOO-DEEEE!” calls Winner.

Rudy raises his hat brim, stands, moseys over, looks through the camera, sees the problem, moseys over to the makeup artist, asks to borrow a can of hairspray, returns to the horse, and — SKOOSH — sprays the tip of the unruly member with hairspray. And the thing retracts like a telescope.

Tip of the ole hat to Mr. Winner, and Rudy walks back to the startled makeup woman, hands her the hairspray back, returns to his seat in the shade. Hat down Feet up.

12 Responses to “Rudy the Wrangler”

  1. A horse de-flufferr?

  2. Something like that. The question I have is, through what process of trial and error was it discovered that this was the solution to this problem? And is it humane?

  3. I’m surprised Winner didn’t want to keep it in. He seemed like a puerile type.

  4. GSPegger Says:

    A great example of the butterfly effect. The erection retreats as the hole in the ozone layer enlarges.

  5. David, I’m guessing the story is a lot funnier without engor–um…without engaging in such details.

  6. Bertolucci once flattered Leone by telling him he was the only western director apart from Ford to film horses from the rear. Winner could have gotten the jump on all of them.

  7. John Seal Says:

    Are ANY of Winner’s films ‘pleasant affairs’? I’m having a hard time thinking of one.

  8. When he tries to do light, there’s always a bum note. Like, The Jokers is genuinely pretty entertaining, but misanthropic.

    I finally saw Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, and for a nostalgic comedy about old Hollywood, it’s astonishingly bleak, nasty, creepy and hostile.

  9. bensondonald Says:

    Won Ton Ton had a similar problem, with the starring dog getting visibly aroused at press events. I recall a publicity photo where they put a small platform, very visible, under his hind legs to help hide it. The reporter mentioning this was disappointed that Mae West, also present, didn’t toss off any suitable one-liners.

    The one gag I liked involved making porn films in Mexico (Won’s role is, unfunnily but mercifully, that of a procurer). We get a fleeting look at the audience: a handful of peasants with massive sombreros on their laps.

    A lot of it was boggling, such as a bit where being a guide dog was presented as the ultimate canine degradation (and Won promptly abandons his charge, played straight by Milton Berle). Then they give adorable Teri Garr cheerful lines about sex for money, followed by Madeleine Kahn explaining she’s a prostitute to Ben Blue, who’s preparing to grope her when Won intervenes.

    Just kind of stupid was presenting a mock Sennett comedy as consisting of Kahn walking unknowingly through an unfunny gang shootout. For a film so packed with old stars and references, it felt like it was made by people who’d never seen a single silent film.

    And of course the chestnut about a drama so unwittingly bad it’s a hit comedy — when, like most versions of this idea, what’s supposedly hilarious to the audience in the movie is in fact pretty dire. A heroine brightly hanging laundry before saving the hero is the movie’s idea of unintended comedy.

  10. In his memoirs, Winner seems bewildered as to why he crammed the film with cameos. I assume it’s through some kind of affection for old Hollywood, but clearly there was no process of meeting up with the codgers first to check that their appearance is not one to invite instant pity and distress. The movie becomes an unintentionally tragic role-call of the nearly dead. Walter Pigeon staggers on for one shot, and by the time his character reappears, he’s been replaced by someone more able-bodied.

  11. John Seal Says:

    In the interest of science, I watched Death Wish last night. My reaction was no different than on previous viewings: what a horrible message, and what a horrible vision of humanity. The most baffling part is the aftermath of Bronson’s first murder: he goes home and vomits violently into the toilet, then…proceeds to start killing more and more people! There’s no explanation for this transformation; all I could think of was the common bromide about how users vomit the first time they use heroin (sorry, can’t speak from personal experience on this point). Perhaps that was Winner’s thesis – violence is like a drug – but I’m probably giving him way too much credit.

    It wasn’t even any fun watching wee Jeff Goldblum slashing Hope Lange’s face or the uncredited Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs get shot to death.

  12. Poor Jeff had to rape a chair in his audition.

    I suspect the writers may have had a slightly more nuanced idea in mind, and Winner may have run roughshod over this, so maybe Bronson’s emotional journey made more sense at one point. (Doesn’t casting Bronson as the family man who’s driven to become a killer constitute tipping your hand a bit soon?)

    Agree re the worldview, and it’s something that bothers me in 90% of the Winners I’ve seen. The fact that he considered these films “romps” says a lot about the man.

    Anyhow, we can look forward to the Bruce Willis remake this year.

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